MASK TEST: Which masks protect those around you best? Researchers weigh in

What are the best masks or face coverings to protect those around you from the coronavirus? Here's what researchers say.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020
MASK TEST: Here are the best, worst face coverings
All masks are not created equal, and bandannas are the poorest in the group.

Good hygiene, social distancing and face masks. By now, we know that those are key components when it comes to protecting ourselves and one another from COVID-19. But all masks are not created equal.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University did a study to see which works best to protect people around you.

Different fabrics, construction and fit - they put a wide variety of face coverings to the test, such as a bandanna, a loosely folded cotton handkerchief, the popular homemade double-layer cotton covering, and an over-the-counter cone style.

In the lab, the single-layer bandanna performed the worst, with respiratory droplets still traveling more than 3.5 feet. They also lingered in the air.

We asked an expert from UCLA for tips on how to properly wear a mask.

The best option was the homemade two-layer mask made of quilting cotton, a more densely woven fabric. Droplets traveled up and down from the inside, but only 2.5 inches forward.

But ABC Medical Editor Dr. Jen Ashton says take this study with a grain a salt as the simulation is in a lab. In the real world, wind, humidity and other factors can play role.

"To be clear we are at a stage when anything is better than nothing," said Ashton.

Amid a worldwide coronavirus outbreak, doctors say not everyone needs to start wearing masks. Here's how to protect yourself.